Programme Managers of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the WHO African Region, are meeting in Accra as a follow-up to the just-ended Regional Stakeholders’ Conference on NTDs.
Participants would focus on Preventive Chemotherapy (PCT) as a major intervention towards reducing the burden of NTDs in the WHO African Region by 2020.
Dr Idrissa Sow, WHO Representative in Ghana, on behalf of Dr Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director in Africa, called on countries to take ownership of programmes and commit themselves to scaling up integrated interventions and identify gaps and bottlenecks and find remedies to theme.
He said countries should learn from each other's experiences and build on successes and failures.
The annual meetings for NTD Programme managers would provide a platform for the WHO African Regional Office (AFRO), partners and country participants in the regional stakeholders conference, to provide updates and share lessons regarding preventive chemotherapy programmes in their countries.
They would provide them with guidelines on important programmes including NTD mapping, MDA implementation, Coordination mechanisms at country level, as well as ensuring modalities for resource mobilisation for national NTD programmes.
Dr Idrissa, noted that some tangible results had been achieved with regards to interruption of NTDs such as Onchocerciasis transmission, elimination of leprosy, Guinea Worm, Trachoma, control and elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis.
He, however, said WHO African Region remained the home of 50 per cent of the global burden of NTDs and thus many challenges remained.
“There is the need for new innovative approaches to fund rising including identification of internal resources from a network of local partners and government sustained financial contribution,” Dr Idrissa said.
He said the meeting was an opportunity to translate into action a number of issues discussed during the Regional Stakeholders consultative meeting on NTDs.
Dr Idrissa said as Programme Managers, they were expected to play key roles in advocacy, coordination, collaboration, integration, sustainability and resource mobilisation.
He explained that AFRO had defined strategic areas for support to Member States to accelerate elimination and control of NTDs.
Dr Idrissa said in response to the new momentum, the AFRO had defined four strategic areas, including strengthening government ownership coordination, advocacy and partnership, enhancing planning for results, resource mobilisation and financial sustainability of national programmes, scaling up access to interventions, treatment and service delivery capacities and enhancing monitoring, evaluation and surveillance and operational research.
Mr Georges Klzerbo, Communicable Diseases Programme Area Coordinator, Disease Prevention and Control Cluster, WHO, said the region was committed to scale up interventions towards elimination or eradication of targeted NTDs, but stressed that adequate resources and capacity must be mobilised in addition to medicines.
He advocated that a framework for NTD Programme monitoring must be finalised and implemented.